Topical Nurofen Gel (Ibuprofen) for facial flushing


Some interesting recently published research suggests that a topical ibuprofen gel, such as found in Nurofen Gel, is capable of limiting a facial flush.

Research undertaken by Professor Peter Drummond has recorded preliminary results that show that applying ibuprofen gel stopped the increase in blood flow to the face that results from exercise or embarrassment.

It appears that topical ibuprofen is a safe treatment option to limit facial flushing.

Professor Drummond is known to the members of the online rosacea community from his interview on Rosacea and the Sympathetic Nervous System.

Topical ibuprofen inhibits blushing during embarrassment and facial flushing during aerobic exercise in people with a fear of blushing

Peter D. Drummond, Kate Minosora, Gretta Little, Wendy Keay, School of Psychology and Exercise Science, Murdoch University, Perth, 6150 Western Australia

The flush that develops during whole-body heat stress depends partly on prostaglandins production in the skin.

Variations in the strength of this local mechanism may contribute to individual differences in susceptibility to blushing and associated anxiety.

To investigate this in the present study, the anti-inflammatory agent ibuprofen (which blocks prostaglandins formation) was applied topically to a small area of the cheek in 16 participants with a fear of blushing and in another 14 without this fear.

Changes in skin blood flow were monitored at the ibuprofen-treated site and at a mirror image control site while participants sang (to induce embarrassment and blushing) and during aerobic exercise (to induce flushing).

The topical ibuprofen treatment inhibited increases in cheek blood flow in both groups during both of these tasks. However, increases in cheek blood flow were greater in participants with high than low fear of blushing immediately after exercise.

These findings suggest that prostaglandins contribute to dilatation of facial blood vessels both during emotional arousal (embarrassment) and aerobic exercise. Furthermore, fear of blushing may be associated with mechanisms that delay the resumption of normal vascular tone after a period of vasodilatation.

Whether topical ibuprofen gel is suitable for intermittent or long-term use as an aid for blushing control requires further investigation.

Extended Conclusion

Nevertheless [the study deficiencies], the findings provide preliminary support for a pharmacological approach to blushing control that might be relevant not only for people who are frightened of blushing but also for inflammatory dermatological conditions such as rosacea.

As topical ibuprofen gel is associated with only minor side effects (Massey et al., 2010), it may be suitable both for intermittent and long-term use as an aid for blushing control. In particular, knowing that ibuprofen suppresses blushing might help people who are frightened of blushing engage in social encounters that they otherwise would have avoided. This could provide an opportunity to habituate to anxiety-provoking cues and allow the fear of blushing to subside.

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About the Author

About the Author: David Pascoe started the Rosacea Support Group in October 1998. .

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13 Reader Comments

  1. SA2234 says:

    Good Report, Thanks David. I will try this and report Back. This stuff is cheap and easy to get so why not.

    • NT says:

      SA2234 did you try the gel? If so, did it work ? Where did you purchase this ?

      • SA2234 says:

        Hi NT, Yes I have tried it but I am not sure how long it lasts for yet. I wonder if its only effective for 1 hour post application. If anyone can shed some light on this please do. I will keep trying it NT and report back again. Btw, it is available at the pharmacy just look for a rub that contains Ibuprofen as the active ingredient. it sinks in very nicely and doesn’t block your pores.

        • NT says:

          SA2234… Thank you for the feedback… after using Mirvaso and having the worst experience , I am looking for alternatives.

  2. Ok says:

    Has anyone else tried this for flushing? I am going to chemist tomorrow and will trial over the weekend.

  3. PTA says:

    It works for me!!! thank you.

  4. LikeaG6 says:

    Hi PTA, Please can you tell us more. What symptoms do you have? How long does it last?? etc

  5. Ruth Ander says:

    it is available at the pharmacy and works for 3 o 4 hours, at least. I recommend it.

  6. NT says:

    Is this gel sold in the US?… cannot seem to locate

  7. Marilyn says:

    NT, I looked for this & ended up, buying some, just now on e-bay ( all the way from Thailand) to see if it might help my rosacea & really need to know, if anyone else in this group has luck with this product & how much to use, etc. & is there any burning with it? .Can tolerate ibuprofen by mouth, though never used this cream before, as,too, have had, so far no luck in finding any store that carries it in the US ? …If worse comes to worse, I can always use it for my arthritis….

  8. “I’ve never heard of this med. Will it be $400 or more a tube now if found to be a cure ? :(”

    ” You can buy it over the counter in Australia, about $15 for a 100g tube”

    “Seems to help to stop the flushing? Or to slow it down?”

    “The current popular gel has just the opposite effect on my making my face the reddest it’s ever been.”

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